Awakening. Looking back on our life together in 2012, its the word I would use to describe God's activity within and among us. We woke up to things that matter most this year.
In 2012, we Woke Up to God's Mission. In Acts 1 we watch & listen as the Resurrected Jesus connected with His community of imperfect doubting worshipers one last time. Redemption was at hand. Restoration was here. Shalom was now a reality.
"Mission accomplished, right Jesus?" they asked.
"Yes and no." He said. "Mission will be accomplished because I'm going to give you My Spirit which will enable you to embody My mission here, near, & far."
In that moment, Jesus gave voice to what the Mission of God has been ever since we picked the fruit in the Garden: Global Redemption, Global Restoration, Global Reconciliation, Global Flourishing.
Redemption, Restoration, Reconciliation, Flourishing. These things were finally a possibility because of the work of Jesus on the Cross, but the great surprise is that they would be made reality as The Spirit-Inhabited Community faithfully embodied the Mission of God. Heaven and Earth would be woven together again as Holy Spirit fueled men and women followed Jesus on mission together into places here, near, & far.
We are the contemporary embodiment of the Mission of God.
In 2012, we Woke Up to God's Fame. In Malachi 1:11 God says, "One day, I will be made famous among the nations again." We have a God who is consumed with His own fame and that's right and good: He's God. However, His own statement suggests that at the time of Malachi, God was not famous among the nations, and He still isn't.
Question: So how is God going to become famous? Answer: By attaching His reputation to the very part of creation that caused it to become marred: humanity.
Here's how it works: In John 15:8, Jesus paints a beautiful word picture in which God the Father is the Gardner, God the Son is the Vine, and we are but mere branches. Left unnamed in John 15 is God the Holy Spirit, but if we were to consider botany, we could imagine the Holy Spirit as the Sap that carries the life of the Vine into and causes fruit to emerge on each branch.
When we remain rooted in the Vine, fruit emerges that we bear the burden of.
But who is the fruit for? Certainly not the branches! We have everything that we need because the Sap carries the life of the Vine into us. So if the fruit isn't for the branches, then who is it for? Answer: those not yet connected to the Vine.
When they taste the delicious juice from the fruit that emerged in our lives as we remained rooted in the Vine, they don't laud the branches...the celebrate the brilliance of the Winemaker. That is, when others taste the fruit that is the byproduct of our Rooting in Christ, God (not "we") becomes famous. When we remain Rooted in Christ, we get His Power and Presence and He gets His fame.
In 2012, we Woke Up to God's Metric. As we journeyed through Acts this year, we stumbled into a village called Antioch (Acts 11) where people whose lives looked like the Crucified One were insulted with the name "Christian". What was meant as an insult, these followers of Jesus who were Rooted in Christ, Woven Together as Family, Extending Sacrificial Love, and Cultivating Others to Be & Do the Same wore like a badge of honor.
In contrast, we woke up to our contemporary metric for being "Christian" and called it "Golden Ticket Christianity." This brand of Christianity means that we go to church (on the national average of 3 times out of 8); we read our Bibles (but not really); we pray (but we're not certain it changes anything); we're in a small group (whatever good its really doing); and we serve (but only when the church organizes a "project" for me). In short, we discovered that "Christian" today means that we give intellectual assent to Jesus but we don't really follow Him. We don't have time to, nor do we want to because if we really followed Jesus, He would totally mess with 'my' life, 'my' dreams, & 'my' hopes for 'my' future.
The great awakening in 2012 for us, therefore, was that if this contemporary metric is the one we're living by, then we have no right referring to ourselves as "Christian" because life defined by this metric looks nothing the Crucified One.
On the other hand, the life that is Rooted in Christ (Jesus is our Source of Life!), Woven Together as Family (We flourish in a submitted relationship with God and mutually submitted relationships with one another), Extending Sacrificial Love (Jesus living love in and through us), and Cultivating Others to Be & Do the Same (Participating with the Spirit in reproducing the life of Jesus in the lives of others) is the life that looks like the Cross.
In 2012, we Woke Up to God's Dream: That heaven and earth would be woven together again in the East Bay & Beyond. That He would be made famous in the East Bay & Beyond as communities of men and women Root in Christ, are Woven together as Family, Extend Sacrificial Love, and Cultivate others to Be & Do the Same.
In 2012, we Woke Up to the things that matter most (God's Mission, Fame, Metric, & Dream). In 2013, we waking up to 'why' and 'for whom' we've been awakening. While our awakening has been occurring, our Steward Team has been praying for more of God's Power and Presence in 2013. As we've listened, 3 Mission Critical Hunches have emerged.
Click Here for Mission Critical Hunch #1